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The Convention consisted of one hundred and twenty six memher s, all of whom, witliout exception, attended on the third day of the session—Every memher Of that hody (except one) was a native American citizen.
66 were horn in the state of New-York.
Europe, (viz. Wales.}
Me t ween the age of 21 and 30 years there was, 1
30 and 40 do. were 23
40 and 50 do. do. 45
50 and 60 do. do. 45
60 and 70 do, do. 9
70 and 80 do. do. 3
There were forty-three gentleman in that hody, who took parts in the discussions. Among the most conspicuous speakers were Messrs. Bacon, Birdseye, Rriggs, Bnel, Burroughs, R. Clarke, Cramer, Dodge, Duer, Edwards, Fairlie, Hogehoom, Jay, Kent, King, P. R. Livingston, Munro, Piatt, Radeliff, Root, Russell, Sharpe, N. Sanford, I. Sutherland, Spencer, Tallmadge, Tompkins, Van Buren, Van Ness, J. R. Van Rensselaer, Van Vechlen, Wheeler, E. Williams, N. Williams, ami Young.
The Constitution was drafted at the house-of Mr. Lemct in State-Street—The first committee, who digested and prepared the different articles, were Messrs. Yates, King, Van Buren, Root, I. Sutherland, Lawrence, and Kent.—Mr. Kent having left town hefore the articles were reported, Mr. Jay was appointed in his stead.
This committee met at Mr. Cruttenden's opposite the park.
The last committee were Messrs. N. Sanford, Bucl, and Wheaton, who met at Mr. Lemet's, and their report was made the hasis of the amended constitution in its present form.
Mr. Fairlie, Mr. Young, and Mr. Van Xesj, were appointed to superintend the engrossing and prmting of the constitution.
I'he engrossing was attended to hy them ; hut the printing was referred to the Secretary of State.
Mr. L. H. Clark, one of the reporters, engrossed the constitution on parehment. It is proper to add, that du ving the session of the Convention, one of its memhers (Mr. Jansen of Ulster and SullivaiO suddenly expired while in the hall of
CONSTITUTION OF 1777.
Vor the following historical recollections of the convention of 1776 and 1777, which formed and established the existing constitution of this state, the compilers are indebted to a writer in the New-York Columbian, under the signature of Schuyltr, who derived his information from the original papers, now in the hands of John M'Kesson, Esq. of New-York, a nephew of one of the secretaries. These memoranda may be relied on as authentic; and are deemed to be of sufficient interest, to entitle them to a place in the appendix to this volume, with the subject of which they are intimately connected
- It will be seen, that, by the second resolution of the seventh recital in the constitution, ( 1 Revised Laws, p. 30,) the deputies to be elected to form a constitution, were to meet at the city of New-York by the second Monday of July, 1776. This was recommended by the resolution of the Congress of the Colony of New York, May 31st, 1776—and that Provincial congress continued to sit through the month of June. When this congress dissolved or adjourned, as mentioned below, there was no other body to exercise the powers of civil government but the Convention which succeeded it, which being elected for the double purpose of a Convention and legislature, (or rather committee of safety,) organized itself at first under the title of the Provincial Congress of the Colony of New-York—And during this year, and part or all the preceding year, down to the time of organizing a new government under our present constitution in September, 1777, there arc no regular printed journals, as there were before and since this gloomy period.
The last body called the Colonial congress, sat till the 30th day of June. 1776, in this city. On that day (Sunday) in the afternoon, under the appre* hension that the enemy might ere long attack New-York, this congress resolved that the next Provincial congress should meet at White Plains, in the county of \Vestchester—and then adjourned.
On the 9th July, 1776, the newly elected deputies (or delegates) assembled at White Plains, (probably not having enough to form a house on the 8th) and elected Gen. Woodhull, president of the Convention. In the forenoon of that day, a letter was received from the delegates of this state in the Congress of the United Slates, enclosing the Declaration of AMERICAN INDEPENDKJNCK! It was immediately read, and referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Jay, Yates, Ilobart, Brashier, and Win. Smith.
At the opening of the afternoon session, the same day, the said committee reported resolutions concurring in the reasons set forth in the recitals of said declaration, fully adopting that instrument, and instructing our delegates in Hie General Congress to support the same, and to give their uuitcd support to :il I-necessary aiid proper measures to obtain the objects of said Declaration. This report was at once adopted by the Convention.
In the forenoon of the next day (the I0th,)this body "Resolved and ordered, That the style and title of this house be changed from that of " The Provincial Congress of the colony of New-York," to that of " The CONVENTION of the Heprcsentatives of the state of New-York." This is the first moment we assumed the name of a state; and the 10th day of July, 1776, may be considered the Birth-day of New-York, as an INDEPENDENT STATE."
Accordingly, in the afternoon of the same (10th) day, the said Convention of the now STATE of New-York, Resolved, that, pursuant to the former resolutions of the General and Provincial Congress, (1 R. L. pp. 29, 30, 31,) the subject for establishing a form of government should be taken up in convention on the 16th day of said month of July.
But on the arrival of the said (IGth)day, it being expected, from information, that the enemy had entered New-York, and on account of a great pressure of urgent business, the subject was postponed to the 1 st of August then next; and in the mean time, all magistrates and civil officers well affected towards the cause of Independence, wore, by a rrsolve of the Convention, desired to continue the exercise of their duties, until further orders, as they heretofore hat} done, except that all process should hereafter be issued in the name of the of Jfeic- York.
On the 1st of August, 1778, on motion of G. Morris, seconded hy Mr. Duer, a Committee was appointed to prepare and report a constitution or form of government. This committee consisted of the following gentlemen, viz :— Mr. Jay, Gen. Scott,
Mr. Hohart, Mr. A6m. Yates,
Mr. Wm. Smith, Mr. Wisncr, senr.
Mr. Duer, Mr. Sam'l Townsend,
Mr. G. Morris, Col. De Witt, and
Mr. R. R. Livingston, Mr. Rohert Yates.
The committee were required to report on the 16th of said month. But owing to the perilous situation of the state, and the distracted state of affairs in various parts uf the country, little or nothing appears to have heen done in convention on this suhject, though the committee was prohahly much engaged upon it—fur on the of Dec. 1770, I find the Convention silting at Fishkill, with Gcu. 1'cn Urocck as President. On that day, 1 lind it recorded, that "the committee appointed to prepare a form of government, and other memhers having withdrawn, the remainder acted as a committee of safety."
This had heen the case hefore from the early part of August I776, to Fehruary or Mareh, 1777, the convention had heen ohliged frequently to change its place of meeting—its memhers sometimes serving with the troops in the field, sometimes returning home, and others heing elected, some despatehed on other tin-1-, and sometimes not enough left to transact husiness, iu fact, such was the alarming situation of affairs, that at certain periods the convention was literally driven from pillar to post, while it had alternately to discharge all the various and arduous duties of legislators, soldiers, negotiators, committees of safety, committees of ways and means, judges and jurors, fathers and guardians of their own families, flying hefore the enemy, and protectors of an invaded commonwealth. At one time they assemhled at Harlaem, next at Kingshridge, then at Odell's in Philip's manor—at Fishkill, White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston; and in one instance, only three memhers could he assemhled together.
The proceedings of the Convention, therefore, were chitjhj as a committee of safety, till Mareh 1777.—On the 0th of that month, at Kingston, (Gen Ten Broeck, President,) the committee, appointed to prepare a form of government was required to report on the following Wednesday: and on that day, (12th Mareh, 1777,) said committee reported a plan or form of government, which was read hy Mr. Duane. This draft was chiefly or wholly drawn up h\ Mr. Jay, and is in his handwriting. There were annexed to it " Addenda," which 1 helieve are chiefly in the handwriting of Mr. Duane, and were mostly framed hy him: for although he was not originally on the committee, he must have heen put on it afterwards, and I helieve some others also.
This draft of a constitution was from that time under consideration, discussion and revision, in the Convention till the 20th day of April, 1777, and underwent some amendments, though not very many material ones. These amendments and alterations were mostly introduced and supported hy Mr. Jay, Mr. Duane, Mr. G. Morris, Mr. Ii. R. Livingston, and a few others; hut the most considerahle part of the constitution now stands as it came from the hands of Mr. Jay. On the said 20th of April, at Kingston, (Leonard Gansevoort, President,/irn./'si.) the constitution as it now stands, was adopted with hut ono dissentmg voice!!
The following li,t is helieved to contain the whole numhers of memher elected. In thefir-il or Irft hand column are placed the names of those w ho are found to have attended the Conventionat any time from the day the constitution was reported hy the select committee till its adoption—that is, from the 6th of Mareh to the 20th of April, 1777, inclusive. In the second or right hand column aro placed those who are not found to have attended at all during thatlperiod, though they had heen more or less in the Convention hefore, and some of them were memhers of the said select committee.